Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
STATE EX REL. ROBERT L. THOMAS, Relator,
DANIEL GAUL, JUDGE, Respondent.
of Mandamus Motion No. 533014 Order No. 533804
L. Thomas, pro se, relator.
Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting
Attorney, and James E. Moss, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney,
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
J. BOYLE, P.J.
1} Relator, Robert L. Thomas, seeks a writ of
mandamus directing respondent, Judge Daniel Gaul, to vacate
Thomas's convictions in State v. Thomas,
Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-13-579375-A. Respondent's motion for
summary judgment is granted, and Thomas's request for
writ of mandamus is denied.
2} On October 4, 2019, Thomas filed a complaint for
a writ of mandamus. According to the complaint, he was
charged with several counts of rape, kidnapping, and
disseminating matter harmful to juveniles in State v.
Thomas, Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-13-571292. That case was
later dismissed without prejudice during the pretrial phase.
Thomas was indicted in CR-13-579375-A and charged with
substantially similar crimes based on the same factual
allegations as the previously dismissed case. Thomas was
found guilty of numerous charges and received two consecutive
prison sentences of 25 years to life.
3} Thomas claims that the dismissal of CR-13-571292
was premised on the denial of his right to a speedy trial
under R.C. 2945.72. However, the journal entry dismissing
this case, attached to Thomas's complaint, provides that
this case was dismissed without prejudice pursuant to a
motion by the prosecutor. The journal entry does not dismiss
the case with prejudice or mention speedy trial. Thomas goes
on to assert that double jeopardy and collateral estoppel
prevent his reindictment and conviction in CR-13-579375-A.
Finally, Thomas argues that he is entitled to relief in
mandamus because the judgment of conviction in CR-13-579375-A
is void and he possesses no adequate remedy in the ordinary
course of law to address the void judgment. He claims his
judgment of conviction is a void judgment that is not a
final, appealable order capable of invoking appellate review.
4} Respondent filed a motion for summary judgment on
October 22, 2019, to which Thomas filed an untimely response.
There, respondent asserted that relief in mandamus was
precluded because mandamus is not an appropriate means to
address speedy trial or double jeopardy claims, and Thomas
has or had an adequate remedy of law by way of appeal; which
he in fact exercised by filing two prior appeals.
5} The matter is before the court on
respondent's motion for summary judgment.
"'Summary judgment is appropriate when an
examination of all relevant materials filed in the action
reveals that "there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law."'" State ex
rel Parker v. Russo, Slip Opinion No. 2019-Ohio-4420,
¶ 5, quoting Smith v. McBride, 130 Ohio St.3d
51, 2011-Ohio-4674, 955 N.E.2d 954, ¶ 12, quoting Civ.R.
Request to Vacate a Void Judgment of Conviction
6} Entitlement to relief in mandamus is only
appropriate where: (1) the relator shows that they have a
clear legal right to the requested relief, (2) the respondent
has a clear legal duty to perform the requested relief, and
(3) there is no adequate remedy at law. State ex rel Ney
v. Niehaus, 33 Ohio St.3d 118, 515 N.E.2d 914 (1987).
Outside of limited exception not applicable here, if the
relator possesses an adequate remedy at law, whether used or
not, relief in mandamus is unavailable. State ex rel
Kerns v. Simmers, 153 Ohio St.3d 103, 2018-Ohio-256, 101
7} First, Thomas's action ultimately seeks
release from prison through the vacation of his convictions
and sentences - something that may be accomplished through
habeas corpus, not mandamus. State ex rel Lemmon v. Ohio
Adult Parole Auth.,78 Ohio St.3d 186, 677 N.E.2d 347
(1997); State ex rel Elko v. Suster, 110 Ohio St.3d